Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Zealand Wines

I have had a recent obsession with New Zealand wines - first with the bright and zippy Sauvignon Blancs, and more recently, with the Pinot Noirs coming from the idyllic island.  I'm pretty much dying to visit New Zealand - hopping from region to region tasting how the grapes change from coast to coast.  With gorgeous beaches and epic mountain ranges surrounded by vineyards that make amazing wine, I'm starting to think that maybe I should just retire early as a kiwi and live the good life.

Until then, here are some of my favorite New Zealand wines as of late:

1.  Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc 2014 is made from select grapes grown in the Awatere Valley and the Wairau Valley.  Nobilo winemaker Dave Edmonds likes to use progressive harvesting to pick grapes at different levels of ripeness to bring more flavors out of the fruit.  The Icon has a nose of pear, passion fruit, grapefruit, and a subtle spiciness with a distinct minerality.  On the mouth, this wine has pronounced flavors of pink grapefruit, tropical fruits such as guava, mango, and passion fruit, and a sour citrusy note that hits the sides of the palate.  Drink within 1-2 years to catch this wine at its prime.  $21

2.  The Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir 2013 is made from grapes predominantly harvested from Nobilo vines, and is made of grapes frown in the Awatere Valley, the Southern Valley, and the Waihopai Valley.  This wine underwent malolactic fermentation of the whole fruit, a process that creates a wine that has full fruit flavors, followed by a barrel maturation process in 20% new French oak.  The result is a velvety wine with a nose of red currant, cherry, fuji apples with a "grippy" mouth feel.  This wine is earthy and has flavors of red currant, black cherry, and a distinct gaminess that comes from the oak.  Cellar for 3-4 years.  $21

3.  Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014 was just released, and it is a lovely, bright, and crispy Sauvignon that pairs gorgeously with oysters and other types of seafood.  The 2014 growing season flowered earlier than normal, which meant 30% more fruit than normal.  Cloudy Bay thinned their crops to make sure that they were able to maintain the desired quality and flavors.  The result is a vibrant wine with a nose of white grapefruit, lime, and passion fruit, with big flavors of citrus, grapefruit, with subtle layers of lemongrass and lots of minerality.  I'll take a case, please!  $33

4.  I've already written about the Cloudy Bay Te Wahi, but I had to include this gorgeous wine in my New Zealand roundup!  Te Wahi is made in Central Otago, New Zealand, and is a fruity, yet refreshing red wine that is perfect for the last warm days of the year, right into winter.  This is a gorgeous wine with flavors of ripe summer fruits - cherry, blackberry, pomegranate, chocolate, pink peppercorn, earthy tannins, with a clean, dry finish.  $75  

5.  Kim Crawford has developed a wonderful line of Small Parcel wines in a wide range of styles and flavor profiles.  One of my favorites from the collection is the Sauvignon Blanc Spitfire 2013 - from the Rapaura sub region of Marlborough that has silt filled soil and more rainfall than the more Southern areas.  The vineyard used to be used as an air force base during WWII, giving the wine it's name, Spitfire.  The wine is big on tropical fruit flavors with a nose of passion fruit, yeast, mango, pineapple, and green apples, with a touch of leafy freshness.  The wine tastes slightly effervescent, and has flavors of green mango, passion fruit, and straw, with a crisp flavor of minerality.  $26

6.  Also from the Kim Crawford Small Parcel Collection is the Favourite Homestead Pinot Gris 2013.  Yes, I know Pinot Grigio is usually reserved for huge magnums of bad art gallery wine, but this bottle blew my mind.  On the nose it is minerality forward with flavors of butter, honey, light oak, and cantaloupe.  On the palate the wine has big flavors of guava, cantaloupe, honeysuckle, kaffir lime, grapefruit pith, and subtle spices from 20% of the grapes spending time in Acacia barrels.  The use of wood in this wine gives it a distinct spiciness with a crisp yet creamy mouth feel.  This is a phenomenal wine, to say the least.  $28

Want more?  Decorated winemaker Anthony Walkenhorst is doing some amazing things with the Kim Crawford wines, and I cannot encourage you to drink them enough!  The Small Parcel Collection has many wonderful bottles to choose from - the sparkling Fizz ($35) is made in the same method as Champagne and makes a complex sparkling with with flavors of lemon, white peach, grapefruit, and creamed honey.  I also love the Rise and Shine Pinot Noir 2012 ($33) grown in the Clearvue Vineyard in the Central Otago region with flavors of chocolate, currants, cherries, blackberries, with a dry earthiness that yearns for a hearty steak. 

7.  Brancott Estate Letter Series Marlborough Pinot Noir T Series 2012 made from Pinot Noir grapes grown on the Brancott Estate vineyard in the Wairau Valley.  Half of the fruit was hand harvested, which was wild fermented and the other half was mechanically harvested and fermented with cultivated yeasts, followed by a malolactic fermentation in three year French oak barrels.  The result is a rich wine with flavors of black cherry, blueberry, mocha, and smoky oak, with a finish that is smooth, tannic, and spicy.  Cellar for six years. $32

8.  Also from the Brancott Estate Letter Series - the Sauvignon Blanc B Series 2013 comes from the southern side of Marlborough's Wairau Valley.  This wine is also made from a combination of hand and machine harvest - pressed and fermented in different ways to create a complex and structured wine with big tropical fruit flavors of passion fruit, guava, and white peach.  The palate has dominant flavors of grapefruit, peaches, nutty yeast, with a crisp acidity and minerality.  Cellar for up to three years.  $24

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